Let There Be Light!

"I have not failed 1000 times.

I successfully discovered 1000 ways to NOT make a light bulb”

Thomas Edison

State 41: New Jersey May 29,2018


We woke up at a Walmart in Cedar Knolls, NJ well rested and ready for a brand new day. Yesterday, we had a blast touring Alstede Farms in Northern New Jersey, and we could not wait to see what adventures lie ahead. Today we drive 37 miles South to Menlo Park in Edison, NJ for the Cross Country Couple's; “Roadside Attraction” for New Jersey; The World's Largest Light Bulb. Constructed in 1938 on what would have been Thomas Edison’s 91st birthday, The Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum stands on the site of Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory. Here Edison created over 400 inventions, including the phonograph, and the world's first incandescent light bulb earning him the name “Wizard of Menlo Park”.

At 14 feet tall, weighing in at 8 tons, and perched atop a 134-foot concrete tower, the world's largest light bulb will leave you inspired to turn off the lights when leaving a room. Imagine that electric bill! Staring at the top of the tower, I could not help but be reminded of the old joke, “How many people does it take to change a light bulb?” I had absolutely no idea how many people it would take to change that gargantuan glass globe suspended over 12 stories in the air, but I sure would have loved to watch them try! Apparently the behemoth bulb actually illuminates, and I found myself wishing I had visited the structure at night. In 2015, the tower underwent a major restoration, and Edison's incandescent light bulbs of yesterday were swapped out with today’s more energy efficient LED’s. Please see the pictures below.

In 1884, Edison moved his laboratory to West Orange, NJ, and the Menlo Park site slowly fell into disrepair. In 1926, Edison’s dear friend Henry Ford relocated the last two remaining buildings from Menlo Park to Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, MI where they reside to this very day. All that remains of Edison's Laboratory at Menlo Park are foundations of buildings mother nature has long since reclaimed. Unfortunately, tours of the tower and the nearby museum were not offered the day of our visit, so we decided to just wander around the park. Few inventions have a greater impact of humanity than the light bulb, and it was quite inspirational standing in the exact place of its invention. Please see the pictures below.

As I was walking back to Rosie, something across the street from Menlo Park caught my eye. Nah... it couldn’t be! Could it? From where I was standing, it appeared to be another gigantic light bulb! I crossed the street to get a closer look, and sure enough I had stumbled across the world's 2nd largest light bulb! While I could not find a specific origin for this light bulb, perhaps it was kept nearby just in case the one on top of Edison's Memorial Tower burned out. Of course I had to take a selfie next to the worlds 2nd largest light bulb! While standing next to the bulb, Lori asked if I had a bright idea! LOL Please see the pictures below!

Upon reuniting with Rosie, I wondered if the Edison Laboratory in East Orange was still in existence, and a quick Google search revealed indeed it was! Off we went for a 25 mile drive Northeast to East Orange, NJ to visit Thomas Edison National Historic Park. The park consists of Edison’s home and laboratories. Since we have already explored oodles of 19th century mansions on our trip thus far, we opted to limit our exploration to Edison's East Orange Laboratory. Please see the pictures below.

Established on September 5, 1962 and renamed on March 30, 2009, Thomas Edison National Historical Park was the home of the invention creating: domestic source of rubber, batteries, improved phonographs, power utilities and the motion picture. Holding over 1,093 patents in his name, Edison is hailed as America's greatest inventor, creator of the first industrial research laboratory, and his inventions sparked major new industries worldwide.

Our first stop was Thomas Edison’s personal library. After spending a year traveling across America, I have seen hundreds of libraries, but Edison's three story 19th century library was among the most exquisite I have encountered! I will let the pictures below speak for themselves!

Two points of interest within the library was Edison’s roll top desk left exactly as found at the time of his death, and a twin sized mattress in the far left corner of the library. Edison frequently toiled, schemed, concocted and created late into the night, and would take cat naps while working on projects. Please see the pictures below.

For the next few hours we wandered among laboratories with decades old dusty glass jars still filled with specimens, and a massive belt driven machine shop. We were left with the impression the workers had just left for the day, and would be returning tomorrow! While Thomas Edison National Historic Park was not an official Cross Country Couple stop, it was a wonderful and inspirational place to spend an afternoon. Please see the additional pictures below.

New Jersey is constantly ranked as one of the most disliked states in America. Perhaps you are among those who believe New Jersey consists of a tangled web of highways, stinks like a garbage dump, urban plight run rampid, and is populated by people who are either over tanned, over gelled or belong to the mob. Then, perhaps you should stop watching “Jersey Shore” and “Sopranos”, and travel beyond the stretch of highways from Newark to New York City. Better yet, avoid Jersey Turnpike altogether, travel the back roads and really get to know the Garden State!

After spending a week in New Jersey, I can attest most of the stereotypical reasons out-of-stater's hate the Garden State are largely unfounded. Despite being the 3rd smallest state, New Jersey’s 9 million residents makes the Garden State the most densely populated state in America. Yet we discovered acre upon acre of vibrant farm lands as we drove the back roads of New Jersey. While Camden and Trenton were scary to visit, the towns of Lambertville, Chester and Spring Lake were adorable and a pleasure to explore. I must say “Jughandles” are the most terrifying traffic pattern ever conceived by mankind. For those who do not know about “Jughandles”, then clearly you have not been to New Jersey! Like any state, there are things to both like and dislike about New Jersey. Although the Cross Country Couple will not necessarily hang our hat here, for the love of God America...please lay off New Jersey!

After departing Thomas Edison National Historic Park, we drove 13 miles Northeast to Saddle Brook where we found a Walmart to spend our last night in New Jersey.